Morning travel will be 'tricky' after forecast calls for snow all night long, with 15 to 25 cm expected

·4 min read
Toronto remains under a snowfall warning with total amounts of 15 to 25 centimetres expected. The snow is forecast to fall on Monday night into Tuesday morning. A major system is going to track across southern Ontario, Environment Canada says.
Toronto remains under a snowfall warning with total amounts of 15 to 25 centimetres expected. The snow is forecast to fall on Monday night into Tuesday morning. A major system is going to track across southern Ontario, Environment Canada says.

(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Travel on Tuesday morning is expected to be "tricky" with the forecast calling for snow to fall in Toronto all night long.

Toronto residents are being told to expect between 15 and 25 centimetres overnight on Monday into Tuesday. The city has been under a snowfall warning, issued by Environment Canada, since Sunday.

Colette Kennedy, meteorologist for CBC Toronto News and CBC Here and Now, said on Monday that the heaviest snow will fall in the overnight hours for the Greater Toronto Area.

"The light weight of the flakes will combine with strong winds, greatly reducing visibility into the morning hours and morning commute with blowing snow," Kennedy said.

"Although crews will be doing their work, I expect it may be tricky for back to school tomorrow."

Snow expected to fall until 8 a.m. on Tuesday

Mitch Meredith, severe weather meteorologist for Environment Canada, said a major system will track across southern Ontario on Monday night.

"The main story is it's going to be a heck of a lot of snowfall specifically for the city of Toronto," he said.

Meredith predicted that the snow would start at about 9 p.m., continue "all the way into Tuesday morning" at least until about 8 a.m.

In that time frame, a full 20 centimetres of snow on the ground is expected, with some it blowing around due to northeasterly winds gusting about 50 kilometres per hour.

The heaviest snow is forecast to end early to mid-morning on Tuesday, he said.

"The heavy snow is right there before the rush hour and it will be very difficult to get around the city early Tuesday morning," he said.

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Motorists should prepare for 'very snowy drive'

Meredith advised that motorists prepare for a "very snowy drive," and he said if people can delay their trips until later in the morning, that would make the drive easier.

"I do expect delays," he said. "It is probably going to be the snowiest morning commute of this entire winter."

Environment Canada said strong winds, gusting up to 50 km per hour, will produce the blowing snow on Monday night into Tuesday afternoon in some places.

"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow," the federal weather agency said.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow."

Meredith said he thinks the snowfall warning will not end until Tuesday morning.

Snow plows, salt trucks being pressed into service

Eric Holmes, spokesperson for the City of Toronto, said the city has 1,100 snow clearing vehicles and he expects all will be put to use between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

As the snow accumulates on roadways, the salt trucks will be out and make their rounds, he said.

With 2.5 centimetres of snow on expressways, those roads will get plowed. When there are five centimetres on major roads, those roads will be cleared. And when the snow reaches eight centimetres and has stopped falling, the city said residents will see plows on residential streets, likely sometime on Tuesday.

As for residents, Holmes says: "Keep it on your property, please. It's unsafe to throw it into the roadway. It's unsafe to throw it into the bike lanes. So please get out, please shovel your sidewalk. Help keep it safe for everybody."

If parents and guardians are bringing their children to school, they should leave plenty of time to get there, he advised.

Plan ahead, leave distance, clear snow off vehicles

Const. Alex Li, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, urged motorists to plan ahead, give themselves extra time and leave enough distance between their vehicles and those in front of them to avoid collisions.

Li reminded drivers that conditions are expected to deteriorate as the night progresses. Only essential travellers should be on the road because there is a provincial stay-at-home order in place, he said.

"If your vehicle is parked outside for a long period of time, you can expect it to be snow covered. What we ask of motorists is make sure that you clear off all the snow on your car, not just on your windshield, clear it off your hood, off your roof and off your trunk so that when you're driving, you have clear visibility on the roadways," he added.

Li said city snow plows and salt trucks will be on the road overnight and motorists should give them lots of room. He urged motorists to park in designated areas because illegal parking makes it harder for snow plows.

"We want our motorists to respect those plows because they've got a job to do," he said.

The snow may make travel difficult and motorists should be prepared for winter weather, he added.

"Just be prepared if you are going to be traveling. Have a safety kit in the car. Have your phone fully charged that, in the event of an emergency or a collision, you're able to call for assistance. And just understand that it is going to take some time to get around."

John Rieti/CBC
John Rieti/CBC